Tips For Driving Big Sur; Highway 1, California

This week has been one of the most incredible and exhilarating experiences of our lives; driving Big Sur from San Francisco to Los Angeles in our convertible Chevy Camaro down Highway 1 California. It’s a path, or more accurately; road that has been travelled by many before, as the pilgrimage between both Californian cities is consistently voted one of the best road trips in the world  – with good reason! It’s a stunning drive down the breathtakingly rugged Californian coastline, with some elevations reaching 5000ft above the glittering pacific ocean and totally exceeded our expectations for how humbling and exciting it would be.

Make sure you take this journey in your lifetime, whether you head up from LA to San Francisco, or drive down the way we did. We have the following tips for you, so that it can be an even more unforgettable experience for all the right reasons!

1. Rent A Convertible

This is our number one, golden tip for having the best time of your life driving Highway 1! Nothing beats having the wind in your hair and the glorious Californian sun on your face as your wind your way down Route 1. You’ll also feel badass rocking up in your convertible at the regular vista points along the road.

If you think it’ll be too expensive, don’t worry! Plan far enough in advance and you can find amazing deals on convertibles. We booked a Ford Mustang back in February (7 months in advance) and paid only $600 for 10 days with Thrifty. I know this is more than your average rental car but it’s so worth the $2-300 extra. Renting the car nearer the time would have cost us $1500 so planning ahead is key and we were also upgraded to a Chevy Camaro for free!


2. Know The Difference Between Gasoline And Petrol

In the UK, we often need to check what type of fuel our cars use before we fill them up. Diesel or Petrol? Whichever it is, there are usually a lot of stickers on the car and petrol cap to tell us which one to use, so imagine our horror when we couldn’t find any information about which fuel to use when we pulled up at a Gas station. The reason is, all cars here use Gasoline and only trucks use Diesel. The other difference is that Gasoline pumps here are BLACK and Diesel Pumps are GREEN. Don’t worry if you try to fill up with the green one by accident (like I did) as the nozzle won’t fit….phew!


3. Plan Your Overnight Stops In Advance

As i’ve mentioned above, this route is a very popular one so accommodation gets booked up pretty fast. We saw quite a few people get turned away from our hostels that hadn’t booked with the message that nowhere in town would have vacancies that cost under $400 a night.

Another benefit of planning your stops is knowing what you can do when you arrive in each place so you make the most of your journey.

4. Wear A Cap!

Sunglasses are great and everything, but they don’t stop the sun from shining in over the top of them! We had our trusty Nike visors which were a godsend when the strong Californian sun was beating down on us.

5. Make Sure You Have Enough Fuel

For both you and the car. There’s a good 40 miles where there are no rest stops and you’ll want to have plenty of water and gas in your car to get you through. This is not a place you want to be stranded!


6. Look Out For The Amazing Wildlife!

From Sea Otters, to Herons to the incredible Elephant Seals – this journey has some incredible wildlife so make sure you’re looking out the window.




Car Big Sur

Big Sur Drive

Chevy Camaro California

Elephant Seals

Driving Big Sur is a totally unforgettable and incredible experience. I hope you find these tips useful as you begin your own adventure!

Come and join the adventure…

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  • Holly

    Ok now I’m so happy I follow your blog! I am travelling arounds California next month and doing this exact trip! Thanks for the pointers 🙂

    Holly at xx

    • You’ll have the best time! It’s such an incredible experience 🙂 I hugely recommend enjoying a Clam Chowder in a Sourdough bowl in Carmel By The Sea (or San Fran where they’re famous!) xxx